Tonawanda News

The City

June 5, 2014

City considers Niawanda Park dog rule change

City considers changing restrictions on dogs in Niawanda Park

Tonawanda News — Locals with four-legged friends have asked the City of Tonawanda to expand the area in Niawanda Park where dogs are allowed, but the council hasn’t decided if it supports the change.

The current law specifies that dogs are allowed in the section of the park west of Gibson Street. Residents asked the council to change the limitations after having trouble crossing Niagara Street at Gibson, council members said.

A resolution on Tuesday’s agenda would have pushed the boundary to west of Wheeler Street, but the council couldn’t agree on changing the rule, and the measure was tabled.

At the body’s work session, Police Chief William Strassburg voiced his concern that the change would be confusing for dog owners. At Gibson Street, there’s only a lot to the west of the intersection and the rule is clearly discernible, but at Wheeler, there are parking lots on both sides. 

“It will make it very confusing for out-of-town visitors, who are 90 percent of the people in the park,” he said. “If they park in the lot west of Wheeler, they’ll be OK, but if they park east of Wheeler, they’ll be issued a citation. I can’t see how we’d make that fair.”

Strassburg advocated for allowing dogs in the whole park, or not allowing them at all. But the majority of council members said they were concerned about removing the restrictions entirely.

“It may discourage people from walking,” Councilwoman Jenna Koch said. “You’re either an animal person, or you’re not.” 

Councilwoman Jackie Smilinich also voiced her concerns, noting that the regulation allows a nine-foot leash — a distance that’s the same as the width of the walkway in the park. 

Council President Carleton Zeisz said he favored keeping the line at Gibson Street.

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